Common welding related questions we hear. Part 10

Welding related question 8 for this month is a common one that arises on our forums and other places, and it has to deal with not being able to see the molten puddle. Often they wonder if it’s the machine or their helmet.  One of the causes for this of course is inexperience. Learning to train your eyes to focus on what is going on in the puddle behind the bright arc takes practice for some individuals. But most people can learn to rapidly recognize the puddle and differentiate between the arc, the puddle and the trailing slag covering (if any) as it coalesces.

The real problem often lies in the helmet itself and with the lens being too dark or with poor optical characteristics. If it is an auto darkening helmet, it can be adjusted obviously. New users often want to err on the side of caution and adjust them so that they become overly dark in an attempt to avoid risk to the eyes. However, most auto darkening helmets provide 100% protection to the eyes against damaging rays even at the clear shade. Optical quality can be of concern as well. One thing to look for is the rating given to the helmet.

The ratings often will feature 3 to 4 numbers with slashes between the numbers. These all have to do with lens characteristics. Each number refers to a rating given to each performance feature. Without detailing all those here, generally, you want to select a helmet with all number ones across the rating. Definitely avoid anything with ratings of 3. Of course, a few people are using lenses that are fixed or nonadjustable on the shade. In this case, a new shade will need to be purchased. Purchase a lens or adjust the auto darkening lens until you can see at least 1-2” around the weld while welding.

This will allow you to see in front and behind the weld. The arc may seem a little brighter, but don’t focus in on that. Watch what is going on behind the arc and just in front of it. You’ll begin to develop a sense and understanding of the puddle development.